As I read and listen to stories of sobriety I've been attracted to women's stories, it seems that there are patterns to women drinkers that differ from the public imagine of the dude in the stained wife beater or the disheveled business man.
Three things that I have noted:
1. Women are largely wine drinkers. Is it because it is more socially acceptable? Touted as having health benefits? Doesn't have the stigma like a bottle of whisky?
2. Women go into recovery sooner than men do. The bottom is "higher," or the self-reflection about the building problem surfaces earlier and is addressed.
3. Women have more tendencies to hide their drinking. For example, socially they will drink a few drinks and then at home continue drinking in private.
So where does that leave me with this label of alcoholic? It's strange how much I think about what others think of me. I stopped drinking before the final, obvious advanced stages of alcoholism. Do people take me seriously or do I seem like I'm making a big deal out of my drinking habits? How are people judging me?
I am thinking about this because of my reaction to hearing a woman's story on the Bubble Hour. She shared about how much she was drinking a night and my Shelly-voice snarled, "a bottle of wine? And you call yourself an alcoholic? Feh, a bottle of wine was a light day for me." That wasn't very supportive of me at all, what the hell Shelly? This woman went on to discuss my very reaction in her world-when she stopped drinking and told her friends and family she was in recovery they didn't believe she had a problem in the first place. That's terrible, and terrible of me AND I hope that doesn't happen to me.
And if it does happen I have to realize they don't know the whole story. They don't know what obsessive thoughts go through my head when I'm drinking, maybe they haven't witnessed when I cross into my Shelly ego and what she is capable of, and that I don't remember most of those wilded-out nights. They don't know that I go home and often continue that happy hour until bedtime or that I'm the last one to leave a happy hour or a party because I get lost in the drinking.
But am I an alcoholic? I seem to be just before the physical addiction in the progression of things, but all the patterns and psychological traits have manifested in some form or another according to this quiz by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.
Some of the alarming things I said yes to are:
Secret thought: maybe I need one true test of tried moderation after all this soul searching and thoughtfulness about drinking to see if I can't really do it. But then I think of an another hangover. And another blackout. Another time when a couple turns into a many. And then at the end there always seems to lead me back to another Day 1.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp